Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who is widely seen as the BJP’s favourite PM candidate, joined top party leaders and officials from across the country at a closed-door session on Sunday, and pressed for an “aggressive” strategy against the Congress for a sure shot at the next Lok Sabha polls.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi waves to supporters during the BJP's foundation day celebration in Ahmadabad. UNI
In his first appearance before a crucial BJP meeting since his elevation to the party’s parliamentary board, a tough-speaking Modi pushed his colleagues to drop their “kid glove” approach and learn from his experience to knock out the ruling combine, as its unpopularity was at “its peak”.
Modi did not mince words in saying the hitherto approach of the BJP of “being too gentle” with the Congress government won’t do.
“Unless you make the people really hate the Congress by exposing their track record and the mess in every key area of governance and the havoc wrought by them, you can’t make them choose you,” the Gujarat chief minister said.
Virtually sounding the war bugle, Modi outlined “ways” to take on the Congress leadership and offered several “tips” to “neutralise” its network of “influence” in different spheres, by working really hard to woo voters right from the booth level in each Lok Sabha constituency, highly-placed BJP sources told HT.
Stating that “half-baked and half-hearted ideas won’t do”, Modi drew a parallel to the decade in Madhya Pradesh between 1993 and 2003 when Digivijaya Singh was chief minister. Saying that it took the BJP 10 years to force the Congress out of office there, Modi recalled the follies of the BJP till it gained force.
Party president Rajnath Singh, who had summoned all BJP state chiefs for the “strategy session”, told them the "anti-Congress atmosphere in the country should not be fretted away through the actions of some leaders”.
He sternly warned them against speaking without authorisation on issues including who should be the PM nominee, which created “unnecessary” controversy and robbed the BJP of its USP as an alternative to the Congress.
Sources quoted Singh as saying that “some leaders have been ‘announcing’ names of PM candidates virtually on a daily basis, deflecting attention from the party’s achievements... I won't tolerate indiscipline, whoever it may be. I will give a warning and then act against them. We can't afford to be a house of warring leaders if we want to defeat the Congress.”
Senior BJP leaders who “dissected” the political situation state by state concluded that the Lok Sabha polls could be held in November, along with assembly elections in Delhi, MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
BJP patriarch LK Advani said the BJP had lost in 2004 due to “overconfidence” and there was a need for caution this time. He wanted the BJP to go to polls with “good governance, prudent politics and an ideal image” as its USP.
Arun Jaitley ruled out the possibility of a Third Front government and predicted the Congress would lose badly in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, where it got a total of 160 seats in 2009. Sushma Swaraj said that even as Gujarat had done well, the achievements of other BJP-ruled states like MP and Chhattisgarh should be showcased to woo voters.